The following is a Q&A answered for the Gazette by Lady Heather Shea, the Questrix (Kelly Magill) Grand Council Chair.
What is the role of the Grand Council in the SCA?
The SCA Board, circa 1995, created the Grand Council as a think-tank to brainstorm about business-side changes or generate ideas about how the SCA operates as a corporation. It issues quarterly reports to the Board, and has been granted the right to place items on the agenda for Board discussion. It has been meeting continuously (with changes in membership and structure) for 19 years.
Can you give us examples of issues you’ve discussed?
The Grand Council has issued many reports over the years, some quite practical, and some a little more fanciful. As examples of what we’ve introduced
• potential alternative ways of funding the organization
• reports on what we feel are the most important core features of the SCA’s corporate governance (Core Competencies)
• recommendations on how to better engage with participants or improve membership retention
• pragmatic matters like specific Corpora Revision language
• general reviews of SCA regulation and policy.
How do these discussions take place?
Grand Council discussions are all done via an email list. One of the really neat parts of the our email list is that anyone may read it, and that it encourages non-members to contribute (albeit through a moderator). Depending on the nature of the topic, we invite appropriate Officers to the discussion to provide insight. We also hold informal get-togethers at some of the major inter-kingdom wars.
What form do your recommendations to the Board of Directors take?
Our recommendations are presented in quarterly reports for the Quarterly Board Meeting. Sometimes we simply answer the questions asked of us, other times we write full reports with formal recommendations. It varies.
How does someone become a member of the Grand Council?
There are currently 2 ways to be a member of the Grand Council. The first is as a Kingdom Representative. Each Kingdom is afforded 1 representative on the Grand Council and they are appointed by their Crowns. The second way is to submit an application to become a member via our online application form.
We hold a call for applications each Spring and are accepting applications now. From those applications, new members are chosen to fill the available openings on Grand Council.
Is there anything specific you look for in members?
The Grand Council represents the diversity of the Society. We have people from all walks of life, and all lengths of participation in the SCA. We welcome real-world experience and expertise, and we do not require SCA membership nor do we weigh people’s awards. What we try to do is “balance” the council so that we get a comprehensive overall set of opinions to have input on the topic we are discussing.
If someone was interested in following the Grand Council discussions, how could they do this?
People who wish to join us in discussions can join us by signing up online.
What do you wish people knew about the Grand Council and probably don’t?
We manage ourselves, by electing officers and managing our conversations in any way we choose. Former members often continue to read and participate, and refer to themselves as “Group W”, referencing the line in Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” about where questionable recruits are sent while the Army decides whether or not to induct them. It can be a very funny place, or sometimes “A very silly place”. Members and contributors really care about the future of the Society, so conversations can get spirited, but we intend to become and remain friends.